You sit on the edge of your bed.
You don’t know if you have to drop yourself back and pull the blankets over you, or if you have to fight the brackish feeling in your stomach with food and coffee.
Outside everything seems gray and boring. If you look through the window, it’s crawling with people, like ants in a senseless struggle against intrusive and aggressive traffic.
On the table there’s mail of more than a week old. Some plants hang limp, brown and full of cobwebs.
In the kitchen everything is still like yesterday. You don’t remember what you ate before. The light on your mobile phone flashes fiercely because of the many mails and recorded messages that have not yet been opened. When you turn on the television, there is only a mass of flashes and noise, so you immediately press the standby button again.
You know that you have to do something.
You know that you are the only one who can do something.
And that is exactly what you’re so concerned about, this pressure and responsibility, that you plop down on the couch and drift away in a turbulent world of thoughts and feelings that simply do not want to relax.
Sometimes it’s all a bit too much. Everywhere one expects something from you. Everywhere are rules to which you are bound. Past and future violently clash in your head, leaving you with fragments you have not asked for. Oh well, there are friends, neighbors, family members who offer you well-meant help. All of them have positive advice about what you should or can do. But that only makes it even worse, and the pressure increases further. You want to get out of this impasse, and you drag yourself from moment to moment, from place to place, in the hope that everything suddenly will be over.
There are many causes that can put you in such a hopeless position. A relationship breakdown, work pressure, financial problems, or just a sudden understanding that we deem our ideas and activities far too important. Instead of having fun, everything becomes a burden. Your resilience decreases, and it feels like all energy is being sucked out of your body. Fortunately, you are aware that this negative trend must be reversed. The only question is: how? The most important thing is that you stop the negative energy flow. Take rest. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Consciously choose for yourself. In due course that gives you room for the next steps . But take it easy, because it takes time!
The first step is acceptance.
Accept that you ended up in this situation. Do not just lay yourself down listlessly, but realize that now en than everyone is going through something like this, and that it does not make sense to fight or run away from it. There’s no need to search for the guilty, and you don’t blame yourself anymore. You came into this world for a reason. Your current situation indicates that the past was not optimal, and now you get chances for your future. We are all on the journey of daily learnings. You absolutely don’t know how or what, but accepting that this depression is here now, gives you the space for the next step.
The second step is to let go.
That you feel bad is probably because you are struggling with some prejudices. These arise from the expectations you feel pressing on you. Expectations from others and from yourself. If you let go these expectations, you can start building again. I once read a saying by Loesje: “If you let go, you have two hands free!”. And isn’t that true indeed! That does not mean that there are no elementary social rules in your environment. They make sense, and guarantee safety and security in dealing with each other. Those rules don’t cost energy, and you can use them without worries. You know where you can do your shopping, how to make an appointment with your doctor, how you behave in traffic. Or you can call 1-1-2 if you panic. More precisely it’s the expectations of others that often raise unspoken rules. You can safely let go of these and (if you have the strength for it) question it. Why is that rule there? What does it yield to you and the other? Can it be different?
After a while you are ready for the third step: create order.
You need order to sustain a positive energy balance. That starts with the small things, such as the daily routine, and not with big adventures, such as moving to another city. Putting too much energy into something difficult can throw you back in the misery due to disappointments. By creating order and regularity you repair the foundation under your daily life. Do you know that statement: “Do good things, and do those things well!” ? You can say it in different ways, but it means that you only should give energy to what matters, but also that you use that energy in an optimal way. That is the difference between “effective” and “efficient”. Acts that are effective will yield positive results for you, and you will enjoy that. But if you do things a little awkwardly, that benefit can largely be negated. Therefore: if you approach it smartly and well, then you are also efficient. Once you are busy creating order, over time you will see that your depression completely moved into the background. The memory of it will never disappear, and that is just as well. In the end, this was the reason to organize your life the way you want it to be.
In the following post I will discuss a tool from “LEAN Thinking” that may be useful to you!